Dandolo's Grave, Ayasofya
Henricus Dandolo was the Doge of Venice (1107 ?– 1205), the commander of the Latin armies during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 despite his blindness and old age.
It is mostly believed that his blindness was caused by the Byzantines on one of his previous visits to Constantinople, during his 1171 embassy. There are rumours about the reason, but as the story goes, Dandolo upsets the Byzantine emperor, and in his fury, the emperor injures Dandolo with a sword, resulting in Dandolo’s blindness. And vengefulness as well..
During the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Dandolo was old, probably 90 years old. He was blind as well. Still he was healthy enough to devise tricks to sack Constantinopolis as a result of his long-lasting hatred for the Byzantine Empire.
At that time, Constantinopolis was like a shining jewel. It was a prosperous city everyone envied. The Fourth Crusade in 1204 was the worst disaster the Byzantine Empire had to live. The city was looted, its holy places were disrespected, its treasures were stolen. To name a few, in Venice, in San Marco Square, you can find the brass plates and bronze horses stolen by the Crusaders from Constantinopolis.
Henricus Dandolo lived another year after the Fourth Crusade. When he died in 1205, he was buried in Ayasofya. We don’t know if this grave inside Ayasofya on the upper gallery holds Dandolo’s bones or not, but we know for a fact that the handwriting on the tombstone dates back to not 1205 but mid1800s. Fossati brothers were invited by the Ottoman sultan Abdulmecid I to Istanbul, and they worked in the restoration of Ayasofya. They put this tombstone to mark the probable place of burial.